Get our weekly newsletter. »
Unsubscribe at anytime. Don't worry about your email getting into the wrong hands. We won't sell or share it with anyone.
Y'know, I never really thought of fried-pie as a Southern thing, but now that someone's mentioned it: well, YEAH, fried-pie!
My quintessential dining experience would have to be a road-trip stop at a --- well, I hesitate to call it a "greasy spoon," because nothing was greasy but the breakfast (which was perfectly, desirably so).
My dad ordered coffee, I ordered tea... which, of course, got me a towering glass of sweetened iced tea, not the mug of hot tea I expected.
Also, I was a callow young thing who had not yet learned to love grits. I pleasantly requested my breakfast plate w/o grits; why waste food? Our server knitted her brow and repeated "No grits? Sugar, they aren't extra. They come with the meal." I smilingly explained that of course I expected to pay full price, but could the kitchen please leave the grits off? She agreed uncertainly.
My meal arrived with a steaming pile of grits spilling over against the egg and bacon and biscuit. I ate every scrap of breakfast except the grits. We paid and left a hefty tip... and when our server swooped by to collect our plates, she glanced at the lonely pile of grits sitting there and asked without a hint of sarcasm "Sugar, was there something wrong with your grits?"
Ditto on the tea strainers. I even have one that is stored inside the sugar canister, so it's always handy for sprinkling sugar on baked goods.
I was mighty disappointed in the very promising-sounding fancypants burger from a local restaurant when it arrived on slices of buttered bread. Though the meat was delicious (at first), the juices dissolved the bread into a smeary, greasy paste on the outside of the patty. It was impossible to hold in hand, and after a few bites, I couldn't taste anything but butter. It was surprisingly unpleasant.
None of my grandparents cooked (at least, not well or enthusiastically), so for the most part, our family's at-home food heritage traces back only as far as my own mother, who taught herself to cook from the early-60s Fanny Farmer and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks she received as wedding-shower gifts. Not surprisingly, I learned to cook from those same books.
But the real heritage --- the most powerful lesson she taught me --- was the ability to scrounge up a beautiful dinner from whatever's in the fridge and pantry. The ability to substitute and experiment and just plain wing it has paid off handsomely, and now we're trying to pass it on to the next generation.
It was several years ago --- I know, because my father was still alive --- before the welcome resurgence of locally raised, house-ground meat was as widespread as it is today. I visited my parents for a weekend and, on my way, picked up some lovely local meat that was ground for me while I waited. I also had a batch of homemade sesame-seed buns.
My folks, who like a plain ol' burger from grocery-ground meat (and I don't turn my nose up at one myself, if it's cooked to a safe temp) scoffed not unpleasantly at these frills. Then I handed them each a burger off the grill, with a side of grilled vegetables and a glass of wine.
And those were the best burgers I've ever had.
Tom Collins sorbet!
There have been a great many memorable dinners for my family, but lately I've been reading and remembering favorite childhood books and, along with them, a favorite childhood dinner.
In our household, the dish was known as Alexander Giant, which is how the littlest kid (me!) corrupted the name of the book, The Giant, Alexander by Frank Hermann. In the book, Alexander, who towers sixty feet tall and drinks his cocoa from barrels, invites allllll the children in the village to a breakfast of sausages and potatoes and onions.
My mother used to make a delicious and simple fry-up of mild sausage, tender browned onions, and potatoes cooked in the sausage fat until they were crispy, then barely smashed so their floury insides show, all fluffy and white.
As an adult, I now imagine this was something she made when the cupboard was bare or time was short or when she didn't feel like making a complicated meal. She served it with applesauce and, I'm sure, some green vegetable to balance the meal, but mostly I how delicious it was --- and of course I remember the pleasure of eating WHAT A GIANT EATS!
natashac's comment reminds me that I have some saffron lurking in my cupboards that I should use (and replace) before it ages too much. Because it's tucked away, protected from heat and light, I never think to cook with it. Time to bring it out and let it sing!
Without any context, I'd have said mac & cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup... but after a long, stressful week, what did I make Saturday night? Breakfast for dinner: omelets overstuffed with mushrooms and spinach and broccoli and cheese, mixed red potato & sweet potato homefries. I was tempted to make pancakes for dessert, but wiser heads prevailed (by reminding me we had ice cream).
And it worked: it calmed and soothed and nourished us, physically and emotionally. Breakfast for dinner is apparently my go-to comfort food.
It's a little boring, but: hey, taco truck, obviously. And it would be parked in the driveway next door, so I could just lean out my window to place an order.
Oooh, either pain au chocolat or almond croissant. In fact, I'd like one of each, please.
Oof, that's a hard choice. But Deborah Madison's roasted squash galette with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, and sage in a yeasted olive oil dough is one of my favorite dishes, and a favorite for Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners.
About 20 years ago at a non-descriptive Mexican restaurant in Chicago's Ukrainian Village, I had huevos rancheros which, I'm slowly learning to accept, were miles better than any others I'm ever going to taste.
Broccoli in garlic sauce! I live in a small city that has not a single good Chinese restaurant, so I finally had to learn to make a handful of passable dishes myself, but it is not the same. Sigh.
Chicken livers. I think it must be my body's way of telling me to power down some much-needed iron. (I read a study a few years ago concluding that our dietary needs aren't reflected by food craving, but my thoughtfully considered reaction to that is: OH, WHATEVER. I just know that I have low iron and I often crave organ meat [insert joke here], dark leafy greens, and raisins --- even though I loathe raisins.)
The first time I made an anything-other-than-pineapple upside-down cake, it was a revelation. I used cherries in butter and brown sugar, topped with a simple one-layer cake batter spiked with almond liqueur and with half a cup of ground toasted almonds swapped in for some of the flour. The finished cake was suave and subtle and utterly delicious.
None have been particularly memorable, though my mother did make corned beef and vegetables almost every St. Patrick's Day, and I'll probably make colcannon sometime this week.
I asked The Fella, who made the tortured face of someone asked to decide between favorites. We decided it's probably my (vegetarian) mushroom shepherd's pie, packed with root vegetables and savory gravy and topped with scallion-flecked mashed potatoes. (Once in a while, I serve it as pot pie with a pastry crust in place of the potatoes: also incredibly delicious.)
We also decided I should make it tomorrow. So thanks for the nudge!
This looks fantastic, and I'm going to be using that trick with the no-boil lasagne soon! I'm thinking a mushroom cannelloni topped with romesco sauce would be knock-out, too. But then, what isn't romesco good with?
Fried green tomatoes.
Gelato, or --- if we can count it as dessert, because that's when I have it at home --- affogato.
Oooh, I too loved the flat crackers with a little tub of cheese-food product and a red plastic spreader. Or the cheezy crackers w/ peanut butter spread between!
For some reason, my rating didn't show up. Let me try this again, because this deserves the full 5 stars.
ElsaMac hasn't written a post yet.
ElsaMac hasn't favorited a post yet.